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JCork
08-08-2009, 01:34 AM
This question has been brewing in my mind for almost 6 months now and I decided to see the opinion of the CGSociety members. So, if you have any thoughts on this matter, I'd love to hear them.

I attend a college university in Indianapolis, Indiana and am approaching my junior year with a lot on my mind, like many students. But, I have a question about if I'm in the right place and am I paying for something I could be doing on my own or focusing in on more.

With the resources out on the internet now, anyone can learn what they need to, but you don't get the critiques and networking if you learn online by yourself. Online schools, like Animation Mentor seem very focused and have high job placement. Universities cost a lot of money and make you take classes that may not be related to CG.

My question is: what do you recommend to a student who is thinking about pursuing other options other than traditional schooling, how do approach it, and what determines if that path is the best?

HughBowen
08-08-2009, 08:31 PM
I would never tell anyone to start a career in this industry on there own.Major problem being once you have become a "master" and try to find a great job and they love you but cant higher you because you have zero formal education which is a must these days.

JCork
08-09-2009, 05:58 AM
I would never tell anyone to start a career in this industry on there own.Major problem being once you have become a "master" and try to find a great job and they love you but cant higher you because you have zero formal education which is a must these days.

I've heard different. Many people say that your portfolio is the most important thing. If you have a personality and are smart, a college degree doesn't matter as much as the work you produce.

Although, if there are 2 candidates for a job, both with the same skill level and portfolio, but one has a degree and the other doesn't, I assume the company would choose the one with a college degree.

rockstar30
08-09-2009, 08:32 AM
Hi Josh,

The debate on college vs online vs on your own will go on forever, especially in the field of design and art as all of them go hand in hand. however... since I am bored and have a lot of free time I'll answer it ;)

A college degree whether you like it or not definitely adds weight to your profile. It's true that the most important thing is the portfolio. but in college you get to learn many things, particularly things that we ignore when learning by ourselves.

Online... absolutely great idea. With so many good tutorials available online it's easy for us to learn several techniques

On our own.... No matter what college you go or how many online tutorials you check you have to eventually try learn on your own. because there's a great difference in knowing the thing and doing the thing.

So according to me ... if you are planning to go for a college degree go ahead that's a wise decision and never cease to learn on your own. You can also try to do some internship, which will teach many things.

Best of luck for your future! :)

JCork
08-09-2009, 11:10 AM
Hi Josh,

The debate on college vs online vs on your own will go on forever, especially in the field of design and art as all of them go hand in hand. however... since I am bored and have a lot of free time I'll answer it ;)

A college degree whether you like it or not definitely adds weight to your profile. It's true that the most important thing is the portfolio. but in college you get to learn many things, particularly things that we ignore when learning by ourselves.

Online... absolutely great idea. With so many good tutorials available online it's easy for us to learn several techniques

On our own.... No matter what college you go or how many online tutorials you check you have to eventually try learn on your own. because there's a great difference in knowing the thing and doing the thing.

So according to me ... if you are planning to go for a college degree go ahead that's a wise decision and never cease to learn on your own. You can also try to do some internship, which will teach many things.

Best of luck for your future! :)
Boy am I glad you were bored. Haha!

Thanks for the advice. I particularly like the last part. That's pretty much my plan. Go through school and finish getting the degree, but when I feel like I'm not learning something, I will take it upon myself to learn it, whether that means doing a tutorial or created an animated short.

The only downfall to that is time. Internships are great! I've had two. Unfortunately, all the local internships are for web design (for the most part). Something, in this other thread (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=793249), I've expressed another internal debate. Ha! It never stops, does it!?

rockstar30
08-11-2009, 02:37 PM
Hi Josh,

I did check out that thread. You are actually stuck in an interesting situation :)

So what happened? Did you take up the new job profile or you left it to pursue 3d?

And also looking at your portfolio I guess you are related to Siggraph. I have heard a lot about it. What does the event cover? Is it a design exhibition or something like Comic con?

leigh
08-11-2009, 02:44 PM
I would never tell anyone to start a career in this industry on there own.Major problem being once you have become a "master" and try to find a great job and they love you but cant higher you because you have zero formal education which is a must these days.

This is absolutely, patently not true.

Please stop and think before you post next time. Posting blatant untruths on a forum is not only potentially risky for others who may naively believe you, but it's also highly irritating for those of us who do actually know what we're talking about.

By the way, it's their, can't and hire. Your sentence structure could do with some improvement too there. You finished high school, yet you're still not impervious to very basic grammar and spelling mistakes. Just like someone may have a formal education in animation, but may still produce mistake-riddled work, whereas someone who is self taught may kick all kinds of ass. See my point?

Each person finds their own path to success. In the greater scheme of things, when it comes to pure skill, the methods taken to reach that point become somewhat irrelevant, because it's the demonstrated skill that's most important. And employers, despite what you're suggesting, know this. Just as students can graduate high school with a less than stellar grasp on grammar, so can students graduate animation programs with poor reels and mediocre abilities. This is why most studios really don't care about degrees, they just care about your work. Fact.

Will this change in the future? Probably not. Are there other reasons to make a degree worthwhile? Absolutely. But don't come here saying that formal education is a must to get a job, because that, as we say here, is utter bollocks.

To the original poster, ultimately it's up to you. Formal education benefits most people who go with it, and frankly nothing learned is ever a waste. Formal education also has the benefits of meeting and working with your peers, which really adds to the learning experience. However, there is also no reason why you cannot learn on your own, or through online courses or tutorials. It's also worth noting that even if you end up studying formally, you're still likely to end up doing a lot of learning on your own in order to do well. In the end, you need to choose whatever you feel will suit you best.

rockstar30
08-11-2009, 02:45 PM
This is absolutely not true.

Amen to that.... There are many people out there who do not have any formal training but are doing awesome work.

Trust me I have a personal experience of this.

JCork
08-11-2009, 04:17 PM
Hi Josh,
I did check out that thread. You are actually stuck in an interesting situation :)
So what happened? Did you take up the new job profile or you left it to pursue 3d?
And also looking at your portfolio I guess you are related to Siggraph. I have heard a lot about it. What does the event cover? Is it a design exhibition or something like Comic con?
Yeah, it's a tough one. I actually just met with the potential employer, who I could tell is very eager to start bringing me on with the company. There are only a few things that will probably keep my from working there. At this point, I will probably stay with my current job and cut back my hours each week to begin working further on 3D. So far, this is my best option.

As far as SIGGRAPH, you NEED to get involved with it! Please, please please trust me on this one. The only reason for me being on this forum, at my job, and pretty much where I'm at now is because of SIGGRAPH. This is no lie.

There are chapters (student and professional) of the overall organization, which holds a conference on computer graphics each year, now with an additional SIGGRAPH Asia, which I had the opportunity of attending this past December. Countless companies, professionals, students, and overall passionate people come together, share stories, ideas, tips, tricks. There is also a job fair, where many employers hire straight from. It's highly regarded as the most prestigious CG organization in the world.

To learn more about it, visit the upcoming SIGGRAPH 2010 (http://www.siggraph.org/s2010/) site as well as the ACM SIGGRAPH (http://www.siggraph.org/) home page. Those should give you all the information you need, but I'm glad to answer any other questions you have. There's so much to it, so it can be quite hard to explain.

This is absolutely, patently not true.

Please stop and think before you post next time. Posting blatant untruths on a forum is not only potentially risky for others who may naively believe you, but it's also highly irritating for those of us who do actually know what we're talking about.

By the way, it's their, can't and hire. Your sentence structure could do with some improvement too there. You finished high school, yet you're still not impervious to very basic grammar and spelling mistakes. Just like someone may have a formal education in animation, but may still produce mistake-riddled work, whereas someone who is self taught may kick all kinds of ass. See my point?

Each person finds their own path to success. In the greater scheme of things, when it comes to pure skill, the methods taken to reach that point become somewhat irrelevant, because it's the demonstrated skill that's most important. And employers, despite what you're suggesting, know this. Just as students can graduate high school with a less than stellar grasp on grammar, so can students graduate animation programs with poor reels and mediocre abilities. This is why most studios really don't care about degrees, they just care about your work. Fact.

Will this change in the future? Probably not. Are there other reasons to make a degree worthwhile? Absolutely. But don't come here saying that formal education is a must to get a job, because that, as we say here, is utter bollocks.

To the original poster, ultimately it's up to you. Formal education benefits most people who go with it, and frankly nothing learned is ever a waste. Formal education also has the benefits of meeting and working with your peers, which really adds to the learning experience. However, there is also no reason why you cannot learn on your own, or through online courses or tutorials. It's also worth noting that even if you end up studying formally, you're still likely to end up doing a lot of learning on your own in order to do well. In the end, you need to choose whatever you feel will suit you best.
Thank you for pointing out grammar mistakes! It definitely bothers me too. But, at the same time, people have different views and have been breaded to think a certain way. I, on the other hand, completely agree with you. Formal schooling definitely doesn't seem to be a must. This is a very different industry than most and one that let's very creative people succeed without having to go to college, although it does help. Just like it helped me become involved with SIGGRAPH.

But, now that I've become involved, is it safe to leave school halfway through or should I continue and just push to get my degree. I mean, I've already invested 2 years into it, so why not? Any suggestions or thoughts on that?

With all the resources and people willing to help in our industry (i.e. CGScoiety), it's very likely that someone could learn everything right from their home for free. It almost seems like college is a place to get critiques, become involved, network, and grow. After that, you're on your own. I definitely do not believe in getting a masters unless you plan to go into teaching. By the time you're done with 4 years of college, you should be ready to get out into the industry. And, if you aren't, then you just need to work on your reel. Sorry, got off on a tangent there.

leigh
08-11-2009, 04:41 PM
Well, of course it's your life and your choice, but personally, if I was halfway through a degree course, I'd stick it out to the end. It just seems to make sense, because you've no doubt already put a lot of work into it.

JCork
08-11-2009, 04:57 PM
Well, of course it's your life and your choice, but personally, if I was halfway through a degree course, I'd stick it out to the end. It just seems to make sense, because you've no doubt already put a lot of work into it.
Right. And that's probably the route I'll take. Just because of the effort and hard work I've put into it, having that all go to waste would be a damn shame. It also lets me build my skills and demo reel for another 2 years, so I can enter the industry with some really solid work...or at least, that's what I hope. ;)

Darkchild
08-13-2009, 04:06 AM
I don't post much but just to give some other perspective. I got into 3D modeling back in 2001 while I was almost 2 yrs into a comp sci program. I was hell bent on doing it full time but it was hard to rationalize (especially to family) quitting school and starting from scratch. I thought I could balance the modeling with school work but it was just too much. Fast forward some years, I have a great job working as a consultant in a Fortune 15 firm. Great pay but if I could do it all over I would quit my comp sci program and go to VFS (main school i was considering at that time).

At the end of the day everyone's situation is different. This is one of those things that you pretty much have to decide on your own.

HughBowen
08-14-2009, 04:23 PM
This is absolutely, patently not true.

Please stop and think before you post next time. Posting blatant untruths on a forum is not only potentially risky for others who may naively believe you, but it's also highly irritating for those of us who do actually know what we're talking about.

By the way, it's their, can't and hire. Your sentence structure could do with some improvement too there. You finished high school, yet you're still not impervious to very basic grammar and spelling mistakes. Just like someone may have a formal education in animation, but may still produce mistake-riddled work, whereas someone who is self taught may kick all kinds of ass. See my point?

Each person finds their own path to success. In the greater scheme of things, when it comes to pure skill, the methods taken to reach that point become somewhat irrelevant, because it's the demonstrated skill that's most important. And employers, despite what you're suggesting, know this. Just as students can graduate high school with a less than stellar grasp on grammar, so can students graduate animation programs with poor reels and mediocre abilities. This is why most studios really don't care about degrees, they just care about your work. Fact.

Will this change in the future? Probably not. Are there other reasons to make a degree worthwhile? Absolutely. But don't come here saying that formal education is a must to get a job, because that, as we say here, is utter bollocks.

To the original poster, ultimately it's up to you. Formal education benefits most people who go with it, and frankly nothing learned is ever a waste. Formal education also has the benefits of meeting and working with your peers, which really adds to the learning experience. However, there is also no reason why you cannot learn on your own, or through online courses or tutorials. It's also worth noting that even if you end up studying formally, you're still likely to end up doing a lot of learning on your own in order to do well. In the end, you need to choose whatever you feel will suit you best.


Sure you can learn without a formal education. my point is when looking for a job most say under qualifications college education now if you find a job you love and gives a great salary and hires you without one great job.Im just saying its best to have one in any field you go into

rockstar30
08-15-2009, 08:34 AM
At this point, I will probably stay with my current job and cut back my hours each week to begin working further on 3D. So far, this is my best option.

As far as SIGGRAPH, you NEED to get involved with it! Please, please please trust me on this one. The only reason for me being on this forum, at my job, and pretty much where I'm at now is because of SIGGRAPH. This is no lie.

Hi Josh,

That's a great idea. It's also good that your current employer is cooperative.

My problem is there's nothing like siggraph in India (there's nothing here for animators). However, i'll be moving to the UK in September for further studies in animation. I hope I get to attend such forums there.

Even I am getting a formal degree in animation after getting a degree in commerce and then working as a content editor and business writer. I recently got a job as a graphic artist and luckily got through the university interview :)

now enough of my story... Hope you get your dream job! I would really like to see your artistic endeavors in future :)

forsakendreams
08-16-2009, 12:15 AM
Finish your education. You may likely find your breadth of knowledge invaluable in the future as you move up in the ranks.

Plan for you potential options 10 years from now.. if you ever want to move to a tangential industry, or branch out, the added knowledge will be useful.

Midgardsormr
08-16-2009, 05:02 AM
Also, don't discount the usefulness of a broad education to an artist. I do not for a moment regret all the time I spent on my liberal arts degree prior to enrolling in art school. It's given me a big leg up on the other students in my program. A skilled visual communicator is worthless without something to communicate, and those non-cg-related classes have been vital to my success, such as it is at the moment.

lilnyc
08-19-2009, 07:19 PM
I have pondered this. I have a masters degree, but I went to a school that suited my work schedule and career at the time. I have since lost that job, and could really use a masters degree in 3D in my current field.

I have exhausted my student loans, and have no choice now but to do online tutorials. Digital Tutors seems most affordable. However, I miss the ability to raise my hand when stuck and get help vs. troubleshooting online.

However, since I am formally educated, the artwork (if done well) can speak for me at this point. I even have potential work lined up.

I advise anyone to get a basic 4-year degree if possible. Once you have that foundation, explore whatever specialty you want.

I had a co-worker who dropped out of high school, but was self-taught and talented. Recently, he was let go. Now he's in a tough economy with talent, but no education. I don't envy that position.

leigh
08-19-2009, 07:32 PM
when looking for a job most say under qualifications college education

Umm, what? Did you actually read my post? Because it seems you didn't. What you're saying here (again) is not, and let me repeat this to be sure - NOT - true. If you actually bothered to research this, you'd see that you're wrong. Go on, do it. Click on the recruitment pages of, let's say fifty different studios, and count how many of them mention anything about college or university. The fact is that you're making naive assumptions (or maybe your school told you this to get you to join up? I can't really imagine where else you'd get this idea), and you're posting them as fact. Most studios do not care about how you learned your skill, they care about your reel. This is an irrefutable fact. Go on, look it up and you'll see for yourself.

Please don't not come here and post false information again. It's a huge disservice to those looking for sound advice.

By the way, I have been working in the VFX industry for a decade, across three countries and continents, for numerous studios. I kinda know a thing or two about this stuff.

John-S
08-19-2009, 07:45 PM
First off, listen to Leigh!

Second, listen to Leigh!

Third, if you even take a look at Pixar's job listings. Every single job listing states that they would like education OR experience. Even with the experience comment... if you can show a demo reel that shows you can do what they need and you have no prior experience, I'm sure they will snag you.

This really is creative industry 101 though. Have the needed talent. Work hard. Get hired. That simple. Well, economy is down so it is not "simple" I suppose but you get my general point!

Now, the hard thing for me personally is that I REALLY wanted to attend Academy of Arts, Animation Mentor (I believe) and some others. I've got no diploma but I really want to pay any price required to get into those classes to get my hands on some of their knowledge. Can't! I don't even care about certificates of completion. Just wanna get that education and pay alot of $$$ but its a no-go.

Yes, its obvious... I should have done a GED or something a long time ago but was silly not to. Now I'm just looking forward to more online programs coming about that don't require such things. I think there is alot more progress on this lately...

JCork
08-19-2009, 08:13 PM
First off, listen to Leigh!

Second, listen to Leigh!
I'm gonna go ahead and listen to Leigh!

John-S
08-19-2009, 08:39 PM
Good man : )

Airflow
08-19-2009, 10:17 PM
Degree= overrated.

mr Bob
08-20-2009, 01:58 AM
No Degree = very difficult to get a work visa without 12 plus years work experience

leigh
08-20-2009, 10:20 AM
No Degree = very difficult to get a work visa without 12 plus years work experience

Difficult, but not impossible. Also, that 12 years of experience only applies to artists trying to move to the US. Most other countries who have the types of CG industries that artists relocate internationally for do not require so many years, or have different visa criteria. I'm not saying that a degree isn't going to help (in fact, if someone had an ambition to move abroad at some point I would recommend getting a degree), but there are many factors to consider, and it's worth bearing in mind that different countries have different work permit requirements.

lilnyc
08-20-2009, 12:56 PM
No Degree = very difficult to get a work visa without 12 plus years work experience

I believe that people should follow their passions, but those passions may or may not pan out. It's beneficial to have some form of higher education.

John-S
08-21-2009, 03:50 AM
I don't think anyone here is saying that higher education isn't beneficial or good. Just that it's not "required".

lindstr0m
08-21-2009, 06:43 AM
I see the discussion is mainly on the 4 year degree emphasis. What about people coming to the usa to do masters degree but don't have a degree in the first place? Are they given the work visas as well? Coz in our field, it is possible to cross over from a 3 year diploma to a masters programme with direct admissions and a good work/portfolio ethic. Some people might have the opportunity to go straight to the masters programme. How does this differ?

taxguy
08-22-2009, 05:27 PM
Although I certainly agree with much that was said in this thread, I wanted to reference everyone to the following thread that deals with formal education for animation:

See http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=283&t=793383

I think that thread makes alot of good points about the benefits of getting a formal degree.

Xelsius
08-31-2009, 10:52 AM
Just my two cents on the issue; I would have to say that of all industries this is one where true talent will get you further than initials; that being said, a college degree will say one thing about, if nothing else: commitment. All other arguments aside about skill, breadth of knowledge and resources gained via training; the fact that you have a degree will tell an employer you are willing to stick with something despite the hurdles sent your way. Besides, if you leave now I'm assuming you will still owe them for the education you have already completed, you would do just as well to leave with debt & a degree than just a pile of debt. Best of luck either way friend.

wohlstadter
10-22-2009, 05:53 PM
Good thread Josh

Thanks for all the information leigh!

Jettatore
10-22-2009, 08:48 PM
Josh, it takes time and energy it's that simple.

You may be already well on your way and be ready to go for entry level work in a few months or it may take you a few years, with or without school. If you have a degree in pure CG, regardless if it's online or offline or even if it's a 4 year bachelors, your going to be @#$@ out of luck if it takes you a long time to get in the doors, and you won't find reasonable fallback work with that kind of specialty degree in this job market.

I would say the absolute worst investment and biggest financial risk you can make at the moment is to go to a CG school or an Art college unless your on a full scholarship.

uphillcastle
10-29-2009, 12:27 PM
I take comfort in what Leigh says - that its about what you know /demonstrable skills/ rather than formal qualifications. I have just started in my learning about cg and although its taken me awhile I like the fit of the clothes so to speak. Having a degree is good, got mine in art - but for art qualifications really dont factor into it - again it goes back to your portfolio. You could have studied nowhere and be a genius sculptor for instance and your work does the talking for you.

I think its only important to have degrees etc doing science/medicine or something thats not creative. But then again its nice to have a degree...even if that art degree is kind of worthless. (Dare i type it)

my plan is to teach myself as much as i can, before doing a course, and even then it wont be a degree in it - i couldnt put myself for 3 years of student life again ;)

fabittar
11-06-2009, 06:01 PM
Ok, this thread caught my attention.

I am a brazilian architecture student who is not exactly in love with architecture... altho I would rather quit school now and rush after my dream, it seems pretty obvious that if I've got this far, the best thing for me to do is finish it and then seek a "professional" education to add to my curriculum. Also, the tuition cost is very high and that makes me heavily dependent on my father, and he's definately interested in seeing me finish architecture school first...

Anyway, this is what I've been thinking of: how do you feel about online courses such as Animation Mentors? Is it a solid, well-known course (as respected as a traditional school)? Will my graduating from it earn me some sort of recognition in the market? Or should I attend a "normal" school?

One last question: do you think a degree in architecture will help me get into 3d animation professionally? Somebody mentioned the US laws on issuing work visas; do you think they would consider my bachelor degree in architecture as a suitable course for a job in the 3D animation business?

(English is my second language, so please forgive me for any mistakes you should find reading this very post.)

Best regards,
Fabio.

Kanga
11-08-2009, 01:14 AM
My question is: what do you recommend to a student who is thinking about pursuing other options other than traditional schooling, how do approach it, and what determines if that path is the best?
I get asked this alot.
My response is, you can learn all you need to know online. What you dont get is inspirational interaction with other talented students and the chance to network with each other and internships. What school wont give you is a kick ass folio. You have to do that yourself. Here workshops and online learning are invaluable. Self study and school study require dedication, there is no easy button for that one.

Cheers

gawl126
11-08-2009, 09:30 AM
Josh, it takes time and energy it's that simple.

You may be already well on your way and be ready to go for entry level work in a few months or it may take you a few years, with or without school. If you have a degree in pure CG, regardless if it's online or offline or even if it's a 4 year bachelors, your going to be @#$@ out of luck if it takes you a long time to get in the doors, and you won't find reasonable fallback work with that kind of specialty degree in this job market.

I would say the absolute worst investment and biggest financial risk you can make at the moment is to go to a CG school or an Art college unless your on a full scholarship.

I totally agree with this and is one of my reasons for avoiding such degrees and schools (not trying to offend those that do go this route). Even if my passion is CG, I need to make sure that I have a fallback while waiting to get that job. I just graduated last year and worked as a researcher (non-cg) at a prestigious private University while I interviewed for several positions in the industry.

carterbaker
11-25-2009, 09:48 AM
No doubt traditional education is the best but for those who are busy with their ongoing jobs and other routines, online education is the only feasible option left. With online courses, everyone can plan to enhance academically while taking care of other responsibilities along side.

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